What gives this program a more unique feel is that it is taught in modules. This means that during the semester, lectures are not taught once a week, but rather one after the other in week-long blocks. The program is made up of nine courses, at the end of each of which, an exam or project is assigned to the students. For example, George Tovstiga, the professor for strategic and innovative management at the British University of Reading asked his students in the Strategic Innovations Management course to create a project for the commercialisation of high-tech R&D. At the last session, the students presented their ideas for marketing a new device for simultaneous machine translation.

Professor Tovstiga shares his experiences: “Throughout my work at ITMO University, I used the same approaches and methods that I use to teach students in Britain and other countries. I haven’t changed anything in my usual program. I felt some differences between ITMO University and other universities in Europe, but these were all positive differences. The fact that ITMO University is a technical university leaves a certain impression on you, you can feel the drive for R & D and innovation, and there is a special spirit of research.  It was also interesting for me to teach a group of international students.”

George Tovstiga

After participating in the course from the Reading University Professor, the international students received their grades and moved on to another lecturer.  Unlike the participants of the academic mobility program, who participate in all the courses, the Russian students can choose only two of the courses so that it does not interfere with their main studies.

Two ITMO students, Natasha and Tanya also share their impressions, “We could feel the difference between our usual university studies and these courses. In a normal class, we sit in a huge auditorium, you don’t always have direct access to the lecturer. Here nothing stops you from speaking directly to the lecturer. Also, George Tovstiga delivered excellent and very clear presentations; which definitely lowered the possible discomfort of studying in another language.”

For those International Students who came to study at ITMO University, the IT and Innovations Business in Russia program, is part of their main studies, while for local students, it is treated as an additional program, which only those who have been admitted into the program can participate in. Potential participants were required to send a motivation letter and CV. Of course, the motivation to participate was different for everyone: some chose the courses because it was close to their thesis topic, while others decided to participate to improve their English.

A Window into European Education

“IT and innovations Business in Russia program focuses on modern European teaching methods, which are based on practical classes rather than lectures.” – explained the head of Department of International Educational Programs Ekaterina Tulugurova.

Participation in this initiative has greatly assisted ITMO students who were wavering as to whether or not they should participate in international exchange programs. Now they can understand whether they would be able to study in Europe in another language. At the end of each course, participants of the program also receive a special certificate, attesting to the development of new competences.

According to the organizers, such interdisciplinary programs will take place every spring semester.  The proposal to hold a similar education module in Autumn is also being considered.